TU senior wins $10,000 at inaugural College Cup Innovation Challenge

Photo: Matt Hubbard/The Towerlight

By: Matt Hubbard, Photo Editor

An all-natural iced tea company won $10,000 at the inaugural College Cup Innovation Challenge, hosted by the Towson University StarTUp, on April 26, 2022. 

TU Senior Lydia Abraham won the challenge with her pitch for EriTea, a company that manufactures iced tea made from a generations-old recipe that uses all-natural ingredients, according to the company’s website.

“For me, [winning the Challenge] shows that when you put in hard work, you will get rewarded for it, and with dedication and purpose, it can go a long way,” Abraham, a student in the College of Health Professions and brand and social media strategist of EriTea, said.

The event, hosted at TU’s Armory, located at 307 Washington Ave., saw five student entrepreneurs pitch their business ventures for a chance to win $10,000 and a spot in the TU StarTUp Accelerator. The Accelerator, according to the website, is an eight-week program where entrepreneurs receive mentorship and resources to aid in their business ventures.

With the $10,000 prize, EriTea Founder and CEO Ruth Williams said they plan to increase production and expand its retail space. She said they hope to connect with a national distributor as well. 

The five other ventures in the Challenge included Beauty Court, a beauty equipment rental service, and MintPrint LLC, an e-book community working off of blockchain technology. Other competitors included Chromaware, a gaming equipment venture aiming to market products for female gamers, and JoJo’s Outstanding JoJoba Oil, an all-natural hair product.

Three judges reviewed the ventures that the entrepreneurs presented. While only one venture won the $10,000, the remaining four received $1,000 awards.

Executive Director of Entrepreneurship at TU Patrick McQuown said that the finalists weren’t necessarily competing against each other, as each was strong and unique. 

He said The StarTUp plans to have the College Cup Innovation Challenge as an annual event for all students at TU interested in entrepreneurship. 

Jan Baum, a professor and director of the minor in entrepreneurship at TU said the program wants to expand its reach to include all students, regardless of major.

“There are lots of student entrepreneurs on campus, from all colleges,” Baum said. “We want to reach as many of these student entrepreneurs or students with entrepreneurial ideas and help them sort through building a model for realizing their ideas.”

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